Nem Kitchen, Vietnamese restaurant in Waterloo, wasn’t where I was initially planning to have lunch on Boxing Day 2020 but I’m glad it’s where I went.
I tried to order a Phở Đặc Biệt but didn’t realise until right now, whilst writing this review, that I was given Bún Bò Huế (Hot and Spicy Beef Noodle Soup – $17.80) instead. I had just thought, at the time, that I was given a really special and delicious bowl of pho. The broth had a really deep herbal flavour with lots of chilli flavour inside. I was going to remark that it was strange that chilli was mixed into the soup prior to it being served but I now know that that’s really kind of a stupid thought given that it wasn’t actually a bowl of pho that I ate. I’m not Vietnamese, so I don’t know these things. The Bún Bò Huế had a combination of rare sliced beef, beef brisket, beef balls, and pork loaf. The rare sliced beef was rolled up into balls and submerged into the soup, ensuring that at the very least the insides of the balls did not become overcooked throughout the meal. I found the beef brisket quite unpleasant – very fatty and chewy with a strong beef fat taste, and I would definitely recommend asking to not have this. The beef balls were quite standard, and the pork loaf the same kind of stuff you get in banh mi. The noodles of the Bún Bò Huế were a thick round vermicelli, which also surprised me at the time but obviously makes sense now knowing that it wasn’t actually pho that I was eating.
An middle-aged white man walked past me whilst I was eating and asked what I was having. He ordered one of the same, even though I told him to avoid the brisket. His loss.
The crab and pork spring rolls (Nem Cua Bể – $12.80) were very good. The pastry was multilayered and crispy, and the filling of crab meat, pork mince, mushroom and wood ear fungus was very tasty. The dipping sauce was a good addition, although I must admit I did not finish (or expect) the side salad. I can recommend this one too.
I took a serving of Crispy Chicken & Salad with Tomato Rice (Cơm Đỏ Gà Giòn – $17.80) home. I was more keen to just get crispy chicken, but could not see it on the menu. Little did I know that they do probably offer the chicken by itself, as it’s on their online delivery menus. By the time I arrived home (a 15 minute drive) the chicken was already non-crispy. A bit disappointing.
The Pork Chops & Fried Egg with Tomato Rice ($16.80) was mildly better than the crispy chicken and rice but not by much. My partner said it was only OK.
I’d really recommend the Hot and Spicy Beef Noodle Soup and the crab and pork spring rolls. I think some of the other sides sound potentially delicious too. Worth a visit, but think twice about take-away.
20A Danks St, Waterloo NSW 2017
(02) 9698 6392